Council wants Banksy mural removed

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The Independent Culture

A council wants to take down a mural by street artist Banksy but admits the work "has value in the right location".

Westminster Council, which has voted to remove the 23ft high piece entitled One Nation Under CCTV from a wall in Newman Street, London, said it did not want to see the art destroyed, but was trying to take a stand against graffiti.

The mural depicts a red-hooded figure painting the words "ONE NATION UNDER CCTV" on the wall, while a US-style police officer holding a camera and a brown dog look on.

Deputy council leader Robert Davis said: "We are not saying the owners need to paint over this mural as we can see it has value in the right location, such as an art gallery.

"We simply want it removed from this wall and the owner is perfectly entitled to remove it and sell it if they wish.

"I take the view that this is graffiti and if you condone this then what is the difference between this and all the other graffiti you see scrawled across the city?

"If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London."

The price of works by the elusive street artist have soared as his popularity has increased.

Jude Law, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera are among those who have been prepared to pay high prices for one of his works.

Last night, a Banksy oil canvas, entitled Tesco Value Tomato Soup, was sold for £117,600 - smashing its £80,000 estimate at auction house Bonhams' Urban Art sale.

Last year a drawing sprayed onto steel by the street artist sold for 20 times its estimate at £288,000.

Westminster Council said it was considering removing another Banksy mural to help fund council services.

The slogan "What are you looking at?" appeared overnight opposite a CCTV camera in an underpass at Marble Arch.

"We are currently considering what to do with another Banksy in an underpass at Marble Arch," Mr Davies said.

"One option would be to remove it and sell it and invest that money into council services."

But not everyone has been happy to find Banksy's work adorning their property.

Transport for London sparked a furore when it ordered its workers to paint over a piece by the artist which had appeared outside Old Street Tube station.

The image, showing a scene from Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta holding bananas instead of guns, was thought to have been worth £300,000.

Speaking at the time the company said the work created a "general atmosphere of neglect and social decay which in turn encourages crime".